Brent Calis Photography shares the stylish Glamorous Airship37 industrial wedding of Keri and Steve and insights into how he creates unique images that will help people go back in time.
What was the main reason Keri and Steve chose Airship37 for their wedding ceremony and reception and how did you respond with your photography style ?
Keri and Steve like the industrial vibe of Airship37, as well as it’s ability to mold into different themes easily. It was near the busy part of the distillery district, but still removed enough that it didn’t feel like the tourists or heavy traffic would impede on the wedding. I responded by utilizing various aspects in and around the venue to best represent Keri and Steve’s easy going vibe. We didn’t even go near the heavy traffic of the distillery district. This is why we were able to achieve such a unique perspective. My goal was to use as many angles as possible to show all the incredible textures that the venue and its surroundings have to offer.
What made this wedding experience such a huge success for the couple and their guests from your perspective?
Keri and Steve are truly in love. They are also surrounded by a lot of love from all directions. Family. Friends. They were super easy going and let all the vendors do their thing. We were all talking about how chill it all was. The crew at the venue and “PLANNER’s team worked super cohesively. Everything flowed and I actually think there were no delays at all. Props.
You came to photography from a variety of different professional creative careers. How does your portfolio of interests personally and professionally continue to feul your photography ?
My background in music is probably the reason why I am as successful as I am in photography today. Being a student of opera, an art form that requires an intense amount of deep thought, I learned how to approach almost every situation from the standpoint of an artist. I shoot weddings as a good writer would approach a novel. As an actor would approach a big role. etc. Everything I do in my life helps me gain inspiration to take the photos in a way that will hopefully last the test of time. I don’t want to follow trends. I don’t want to set trends. I want to create images that will be unique, but ultimately, images that will help people truly go back in time. Images that will make people feel a wide variety of emotions.
There was a distinct and beautiful mood and feeling translated into the interior styling of Keri and Steve’s wedding day . How would you describe their wedding style and how did you successfully document and enhance the experience ?
Keri and Steve’s wedding, thanks to Laura Olsen and her team, had a very minimalistic vibe. A mix of country and urban with their main centre piece in the room. The neon heart was something I loved. It was actually super hard to shoot in the right way, but the end results blew me away. The florals were on point. Again, not stealing too much attention away from the other decor, but enhancing it. Everything was subtle, but had a huge impact all together. There are times when people don’t have a clear sense of what will go with a venue. They try to mix too many elements…pretty much everything they’ve seen on pinterest and other blogs into one wedding. In this case everything came together in a harmonious way.
You make a point of getting to know your couples, their personalities and interests and subtle traits . What are some of the outcomes of this effort ?
This is the main reason I am able to get the shots that make people feel an instant connection when they see them. Couples trust me. They are able to be free and let go. As if I were a close friend. This gives a sense of intimacy that helps capture real emotions on the big day. I have learned in the past couple years (I’ve been shooting weddings for 10), that not every couple shows love the same way as others. Some couples don’t show much affection in public versus others who can’t get enough of each other…and they don’t care who is watching. Some couples cuddle all the time. Some don’t. Some show affection with their words. Others with gifts. There are so many ways of loving. And not one way is the best way. Knowing this…I make sure not to put couples in situations that doesn’t represent how they show their love to each other. I hope my photos are able to show that.
This is a quote from a previous interview you did ” I work a lot on my technique outside of weddings. When I’m traveling. Shooting random events for free. I’m always working on my style. How to best capture different situations. I try to bring all of this back into my work. Then on the wedding day, I forget everything, so my creativity can be sparked by the people around me.” How did this process benefit you capturing this wedding day?
Well. I tell everybody who is hiring a photographer to make sure they look at more than just their instagram or their website. “Ask for full albums” I say. It’s so easy for us to curate the best photos to our feeds. But it’s when you look further where you will be able to tell apart the true professionals vs. the amateurs who are just starting out. In this case, I had planned out a first look back up location. Keri and Steve wanted to shoot at a spot in High Park where they got engaged…but of course…rain was in the forecast. The backup option I chose was near St. Lawrence market….Novotel Hotel to be exact. I love the arches there. I figured it would allow us to have a bit of privacy for the first look…it would also give us cover because of the arches…as well as nearby lobby and other bars and restaurants. We ended up going to the back up because it was too much of a risk with the rain to go the park. While we were shooting at the Novotel, Keri’s hair started to poof up from the moisture. The bridal party along with the close family decided to go to a pub across the street. Basically a dark tavern with no natural light and really bad ambient lighting for photos. This is where my experience kicked in. I was able get some shots without any flash, but I was also able to incorporate a good bounced flash for some great shots while we waited to head to the ceremony.
Keri’s getting ready pics have an intimate candid quality with just the right amount of formal styling . How did you find this exquisite balance ?
This goes back to why I make a huge effort to connect with my couples. My goal is to be present enough that people know I’m there. But in the end I hang back and let things unfold naturally. Sometimes subtly moving people into better light, but not doing much more than that.
What is a key question you ask couples when you first approach the plan for capturing their day ?
I ask them if they want to attend their wedding, or if they want to be the stars of the show, “holding” a wedding. So..”attending” vs “holding” an event. The main difference is that we get most of the shots out of the way so the couple can enjoy the day. Rather than make it all about the photos. Most couple want to a part of the event. They want to experience the cocktail hour. They don’t want to be away for hours shooting. Or worrying about what photos they didn’t get. Of course I still have to make sure to get certain photos of family and some other stylized shots that will help fill out the album. But when . couple is experiencing vs. creating/holding the event, the photos look more natural.
What did Keri and Steve say when they saw their first sneak peek album?
Keri told me that everyone was super blown away by the quality and emotion of the images. Her mom thought she was looking at photos from a magazine hahah.
second shooter Steve Stemller Tara Lilly Photography